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<nettime> Mexico, More than 100,000 in Mexico City protest arrest of striking

from: a-info@lists.tao.ca

MEXICO CITY, Feb 9 (AFP) - More than 100,000 people demonstrated in Mexico
City on Wednesday to demand the liberation of students arrested when
police regained control of the country's main campus closed by a
nine-month strike.  The demonstration, which included students, parents of
the detainees, trade unions and leftist groups, was the largest in 12
years in Mexico, and came at the height of campaigning for July 2
presidential elections. Chanting "freedom, freedom," the demonstrators
demanded the release of the 85 students still held since police took
control of UNAM's main campus on Sunday.  They held up banners pledging to
continue their strike even though they lost control of the National
Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Latin America's largest
university, which they had blockaded for more than nine months. The
demonstrators also chanted slogans calling for an end of the Institutional
Ruling Party (PRI)'s 70-year hold on power. Chants of "not a vote for the
PRI" echoed across the historic city center as more than 100,000 people --
some estimates put the number of 150,000 people -- converged on the
central Zocalo square.  The PRI's candidate, ex-Interior Minister
Francisco Labastida is by far the favorite to win the presidential
election. The leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD), among
those who took part in the protest, trailed far behind, with opinion polls
showing its candidate, ex-Mexico City Mayor Cuahtemoc Cardenas trailing
about 15 points behind his PRI rival.  It took more than three hours for
all protesters to complete the four-kilometer (2.5-mile) march from the
landmark monument to independence to the Zocalo. Demonstrators said the
protest was similar in size to those held in 1968, which ended when police
opened fire on some students on October 2 of that year, killing about 300
people. There was no immediate report of incidents in Wednesday's march.
Earlier in the day, police handed the UNAM facilities back to university
officials.  A total of 745 people were held as police took control of
university buildings and dismantled barricades. All but 85 of them have
since been released. Rebel leader subcommander Marcos denounced Wednesday
what he described as the jailing of "hundreds of young students in clear
violation of the law, common sense and reason."  "No one can talk of
democracy in this country as long as students fill the jails," said
Marcos, leader of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), which
continues to campaign for indigenous rights from its base in the southern
state of Chiapas.  Marcos said in a statement that the EZLN fully
supported protests against the detentions and called for "a national
mobilization to protest the aggression against the national university." 
It was after the failure of previous attempts at dialogue that the
government-level decision was taken to apply for a court order authorizing
Sunday's evictions and arrests. The most radical group among the students
had refused to accept the results of a referendum conducted by university
authorities on January 20, in which almost 90 percent of university
students and personnel who voted said they wanted classes to resume.  The
strike began last year in protest at plans to introduce tuition fees in
the public university. But students added new demands after university
officials subsequently withdrew the fees. 

Richard Mellor 2nd VP, AFSCME Local 444 ** Oakland CA  ** 

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